Caring in a crisis

The devastating impact of the March 11 Japan earthquake, ensuing tsunami and nuclear crisis has prompted three not-for-profit groups to form a coalition focusing on the welfare of animals.

Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support (JEARS) was formed a day after a magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami killed more than 13,000 people. About 5000 people are injured and 15,000 are missing.

JEARS comprises members of the Japan Cat Network, Humane Education Adoption and Rescue Tokushima (HEART), and Animal Friends Niigata. On March 15, US organisation World Vets sent a team to Sendai, one of the worst-affected areas, to assess the damage and to establish support services.

We have a veterinarian [who] will be there long term to co-ordinate our ongoing efforts and provide direct veterinary care to animals in need, and we have additional veterinary teams to deploy,” World Vets’ CEO Cathy King said.

One of the issues that has arisen during the nuclear crisis is the number of people who are leaving the country without their pets.

Shelters are getting calls from people saying, ‘I’m on my way to the airport; I have four dogs in my apartment and my neighbour has the key’,” King told CNN.

World Vets has also been working with JEARS and the local veterinary community near the stricken Fukushima powerplant. According to the World Vets website, protocol has been established for treating and decontaminating animals rescued from areas within the radiation zone. Supplies of pet food, kennels, collapsible cages and medicine have been shipped from overseas as fuel shortages have cut-off local supply routes.

AMELIA DALTON

To make a donation to the animal rescue effort in Japan, see www.jears.org or www.worldvets.org.